The Joy Collection

unnamed

 

It’s a new year.

Hello.

I thought it would be fun to recap the many ways I encountered joy during the previous month.

This year I have been using the Passion Planner as my daily calendar. Within each weekly spread is room for Space of Infinite Possibility. I am dedicating one box monthly to collect joy which might slip from my view unless documented.
This month, reaffirmed how technology can be used for good in my life. I suppose there isn’t anything new or earth-shattering in my collection but isn’t it marvelous how often joy is contained in familiar and mundane places.

Bring on the joy.

Fitbit: When I was a physical therapist, I never worried about the number of steps I walked in a day. My day consisted of walking patients up and down hallways and stairs. I was always eager to take the stairs instead of elevators to access a patient’s room.
For the past four years, I began my first-ever sit down job in a small office building.

I started wearing a Fitbit a few years ago and was horrified by the average number of steps logged at the end of my work day. I am here to tell you, inactivity breeds inactivity but thank goodness, activity breeds activity.

  • I have started taking 15 minute walking breaks during my work day. It has been such a great way to add steps to my day, clear my head by actually walking away from my desk and deposits renewed energy for the remainder of my day.
  • I invited my family to do a Workweek Fitbit Challenge a few weeks ago. Before the week was over, Courtney had already invited us all into a Weekend challenge. It has been a lot of fun to gently nudge one another to be active. I don’t see any end to the challenges. We dragged our feet about Caleb having a Fitbit as he doesn’t need one and more importantly he will clobber us. Are we competitive? Yes!
    But Adam our newest family member disagreed and bought him one this past weekend. The first day at noon, Caleb had already logged 9500+ steps. (Currently he averages about 26,000 steps/day). Another reason I walk the track while he has soccer practice. Every step counts:)

The Bible App: Currently Carl and I are reading through the Bible using a 3 year plan and Carlen and I are reading through the Bible in 90 Days. Slow and fast.
I can’t tell you what a touchstone this has been to my days. Each of us leaves our thoughts on the readings. Doing these plans together has helped me stay connected with two important people in my life, given me built-in accountability and provided rich face-to-face conversations.

Power Sheets: As I said above, I am using the Passion Planner as my daily calendar. During a Cyber Monday sale, I took the plunge and bought Lara Casey’s Power Sheets.
I have loved using this goal setting system. For me, it was helpful to have it in my hands in advance of January as there is plenty of prep work before a single goal is formed. I found the process thought-provoking and glad not to rush because January 1st was beckoning. The sections about what I am saying No and Yes to this year as well as what worked and didn’t work for me were enlightening. By the time I finished, I had a great grasp on the direction to head in the year ahead, instead of grasping at familiar popular goals. The built-in monthly assessments of goals allows me to change my mind. What a novel thought 🙂

Family Skype Calls: My parents live 350 miles away. My brother and his family live 250 miles away in a different direction. We only span two states but we don’t see one another as often as we would like. I am horrible about picking up the phone. In fact, I have to put it on my calendar to remind myself. It’s not my preferred method of communication. For an introvert, texting and email are divine. For the last year, my family has had as often as possible weekly Skype calls. Yes, Skype is old-school and out of date but it keeps our family up-to-date. It’s so nice to see each other’s faces in motion. We have had serious calls recounting test and treatment results and unfortunately, those topics aren’t over yet. We have watched and listened as my brother Bill cooked spaghetti, comical and noisy. We have laughed over past history and it’s always fun when the younger set who favor SnapChat or FaceTime make an appearance. I believe our record is 12 people making a chatty, fun time.

Favorite bite:  A toasted bagel with equal parts cream cheese, avocado sprinkled with Trader Joe’s Everything but the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend, topped with arugula.
I eat carbs.
Shudder.

Feed the birds: “People living in neighborhoods with more birds, shrubs and trees are less likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and stress” ~the University of Exeter.

For many years our family has hung bird feeders. I can attest to the fact it is soothing to watch the birds at the feeders. I also know this has been a slow act of faithfulness. We have placed an offering of food on branches and have waited to become a regular feeding stop for different types of birds. We love to watch outside our dining room window during breakfast and witness our feathered tenants. This is not a new joy but one which continues to endure.

My one word: Unwavering

It would be easy to say last year was a difficult year sprinkled with patches of great joy. If I am honest, the last many years have been challenging. I am learning this might be the bittersweet gift of aging, experiencing more joy and sorrow. I have lost track of myself. I can see it in my body, not paying attention or taking the time to care for my entrusted vessel. I witness it in forgetfulness of what I like in favor of other’s preferences. I sense it in how overwhelmed I feel by the immensity of suffering of those around and beyond me. I feel the ripple of fear of finding myself in the most unsettled place I have ever resided within my faith community. I recognize how neglectful I have been to hold in my hands, the grief of the past decades in favor of simply soldiering on.

The paragraph above might scare you or read as a real bummer.

You might think, wasn’t this post supposed to be about joy?

It should scare me.

It should completely bum me out.

Instead, it feels like a flashlight or perhaps a penlight has been flipped on. I can’t hide the corners of my life anymore. It’s time to remember who I am and also honor the road walked and the path still to tread. I know it won’t be easy. There will be days when I will pray for the flashlight’s batteries to dim the light or to die.

Joy often shares a lap with sorrow.

This is why I chose the word unwavering for 2019. I am on an unwavering pursuit in many areas but most importantly, I am on an unwavering pursuit of Helen. I need to rediscover and reintroduce her to all the inhabited spaces she occupies. At times, I have lived in the third person. There is joy in recognizing this awkward speech pattern.

Every time I am tempted to whisper to myself any back talk, I have been running towards and repeating a verse allowing the truth to establish residence in my mind, heart and soul.  This verse is the first of I hope many to guide my steps and beliefs this year and hopefully, forever.

I am believing as I stretch my arms like branches, with hands full of crumbs, He will faithfully create a resting spot for me to feast.

That’s joy today and to come.

 So let us seize and hold fast and retain without wavering the hope we cherish and confess and our acknowledgement of it, for He Who promised is reliable (sure) and faithful to His word.

Hebrews 10:23 (Amplified, classic version)

What’s on your joy list today?

Deluge

 

(photo taken from passenger seat)

(photo taken from passenger seat)

During the first week of December, Portland and the surrounding areas were hit with record rainfall.
My first morning drive to work, of what was to turn into weeks of downpours, felt like a car wash except for my disobedience to all the rules. My car was not in neutral, my foot was gently on the accelerator and my hands most definitely were gripping the steering wheel.

The ground seemed to cry “uncle” and could not keep up with the pace and quantity of rain leading to flooding and landslides. Puddles and standing water were everywhere making it difficult to walk let alone drive without extreme caution.

A few days into the deluge, I was driving home from work, the rain had lightened up and the sun decided to peer through the grey sky. As the sunshine began to stretch wider and longer, a single ray landed on an impressive high-rise.

I took my eyes off the road in front of me for a moment and gazed at this beaming building in the sky. The sun flickered enough to cease blinding my sight and revealed 5 letters across 5 window panes.

PEACE.

I locked eyes on the word, glanced back at the road and cars in front of me and then lifted my chin up. I admit wanting to snap a quick photo but you know, I was driving…on a freeway.

It’s just as well, because as I kept up this vigil of looking up and down,
I was caught off-guard as tears began to coat my cheeks.

I have no idea the window owner’s intention.

Nor does it matter because it spoke to me in the midst of a chaotic
season, a relentless year.

All I knew was this year my heart had been flooded by images of Paris, black bodies in the streets, weary refugees and thoughts about a man with power, position and a platform shouting out words of fear and hate.
Does his loud voice speak for the hushed beliefs of others?
These heartaches beyond my doorstep clasp hands with all that cross the
threshold of my home.

Tears speak.

In the ensuing weeks, I continued to look up through the clouds to see a word which continued to settle and help me exhale most of what is contained in a day.

I am not sure how many years, I have chosen a word or phrase to embrace for the year ahead. I have grown to cherish this practice. Some years, it has been a challenge and other years, like this one, it has beckoned to me from the sky.

My word for 2016 is peace and to further solidify the choice, unbeknownst to me, Carl picked the same word.

Whenever I choose a word in January, I always believe I know the reasons but there are always surprises and deeper purposes than I know at the time.

This is what I know now.

There are times when our lives become so saturated with the cares and concerns of our lives and world that the evidence comes by way of flood or landslide.

I believe there is a way to live at peace despite the deluge of life.

I want peace to reign in the world and I will pray and do my part for that end.

But peace has to be at work in my heart, my actions and my emotions.

The way I treat others or even mutter about them in the confines of my car speaks to the place of peace in my life.

I am becoming increasingly aware how often I replace the good with the hard,
obliterating the blessed fingerprints all over my life.
I can be forgetful.

I want peace to be an umbrella over the good and hard throughout my days.

The good is present, the hard may arrive but God has not changed.

God remains and Jesus continues to be my Prince of Peace,
I must allow Him elbow room in my heart and mind.

I want His peace to invade my life to such an extent my heart can’t keep up with its pace and quantity. The only solution is to allow the runoff to saturate the world around me.
That’s the best kind of flood.

May 2016 and beyond be lived in the midst of these verses:

And know that the peace of God (a peace that is beyond any and all of our human understanding) will stand watch over your hearts and minds in Jesus, the Anointed One.

Finally, brothers and sisters, fill your minds with beauty and truth. Meditate on whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is good, whatever is virtuous and praiseworthy. Keep to the script: whatever you learned and received and heard and saw in me—do it—and the God of peace will walk with you.

Philippians 4: 7-9 (The Voice)

To my faithful readers,
as I enter my 10th year of blogging,
thanks for sticking with me whether I have doused you with many words
or you have patiently waited through droughts,
this is my blessing and prayer for you:

The Eternal One bless and keep you.
May He make His face shine upon you 
and be gracious to you.
The Eternal One lift up His countenance
to look upon you and give you peace.

Numbers 6:24-26 (The Voice)

 

(I have been writing this post for weeks, in my mind and on
scraps of paper. Yesterday I finally sat to write  and my blog
would not open..sigh! But late last night, it appeared and this
morning there is snow! Each day is different and a chance
to practice peacekeeping.)